Belfast Telegraph

Pilot and child (7) confirmed dead in Offaly plane crash

By Allison Bray

A pilot and a seven-year-old boy have died in the Republic after their plane crashed shortly after 16 parachutists had jumped from it.

Rescue efforts continued late last night at the site of the crash in isolated bogland in Co Offaly.

The plane was partially submerged in the bog.

A rescue and recovery operation was launched, but the bodies were recovered from the wreckage last night and taken for post-mortem examinations to the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore.

The boy is understood to be the son of a member of the local parachute club while the pilot is understood to originally be from the UK.

The plane had taken off from the Clonbullogue Airfield, near Edenderry, shortly before 2.30pm.

It was carrying 16 parachutists who all made their jump from the aircraft.

However, a short time later the plane was seen flying low to the ground before there was a “terrible roar” and it crashed “straight down like a torpedo”.

Local man Jimmy Slattery, who lives near the parachute club, said he was out walking his dog and saw the plane take off from the airfield.

“I’ve seen them thousands of times,” he said.

He thought nothing was unusual except the plane seemed to be flying very close to the ground, he explained.

“I thought he was doing a stunt but I thought he was leaving it very late to turn around.

“But I knew it (the plane) was in the wrong area.

“And when it hit the tree line the tail moved and I knew there was something wrong,” he said.

“Then I heard a terrible roaring and it went straight down like a torpedo,” he said. “That roar will live with me for a while.”

He immediately rang 999 and the parachute club to let them know the location of the crash site.

Meanwhile, a number of local residents gathered about two kilometres from the crash site where local ambulance, gardai and Civil Defence personnel had set up a staging area.

Local resident Declan Burns (49) said he understood the plane had just dropped off the parachutists and was heading back to the airfield when something went terribly wrong and the plane “just nose-dived”.

“You hear planes up there every day but you never think something like this would happen,” he said.

Investigators from the Republic’s Air Accident Investigation Unit arrived at the scene yesterday afternoon and remained there last night.

It is understood that the crashed plane was a Cessna Caravan.

The accident occurred in bogland near the Mount Lucas wind farm not far from the Clonbullogue Airfield where the Irish Parachute Club operates.

Belfast Telegraph

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